Was it actually a BIRD planet..? Who knows?! More and more feathers are reveiled from this past we thought was just filled with lizard -, snake- and crocodile skinned dinosaurs..

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Researchers in China have done a rare and beautiful finds from almost a hundred million years back in time. It’s about a little bit of a feathered dinosaur that encapsulated in a piece of golden amber.

The springs are so detailed that they can tell what color the tail once had. On the top was probably chestnut brown, and the underside was pale white.

These dinosaur feathers are not the first to be found. But previous copy has not been accompanied by any part of the body and therefore have been difficult to link to any particular animal. These feathers on the other hand remains on a piece of tail – which says a lot more about who wore them – anywhere in Asia during the mid-Cretaceous period.

The researchers have used both computed tomography and microscopy to examine the tail and its feathers. They can with certainty that it concerns a (young) dinosaur, because the vertebrae of the tail does not look like the modern birds or their early relatives.

The finding has also been able to clarify a lot about how feathers have evolved through history – from the time of the dinosaurs, until today.

Benjamin Kear is a curator at the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala and think just the preservation of the springs are the most excited about the find.

– There are plenty of earlier finds of dinosaur feathers. What makes this so unique is that they have been preserved in three dimensions. Typically, spring finds flattened, he says.

Thanks to this discovery can study how the feathers were distributed over the body, he says, and it is unusual.

By evolution, many different types of springs developed. Some have been used to fly with, but first and foremost, the spring has acted as a heat shield, says Benjamin Kear.

– Originally developed feathers to insulate against the cold.

Only later became feathers something to use to fly. And the new finding demonstrates how evolution could have gone to.

– These feathers lacks many of the elements found in modern flying bird feathers. They’re like halfway there. And that is what is so interesting about the find. It captures a kind of snapshot of the spring transformation, says Benjamin Kear.

SOURCE: Lida Xing et al, 2016. A Feathered Dinosaur Tail with Primitive Plumage Trapped in Mid-Cretaceous Amber. Current biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.008


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